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The Connection between Good Looks and Self Esteem

Cheryl's Musings: The Connection between Good Looks and Self Esteem

Cheryl's Musings

How to Thrive on the Writer's Road


The Connection between Good Looks and Self Esteem

brushes_creativecommons Ever wonder why we spend so much time and money on looking good? Maybe this is obvious to most of you, but I’m the kind of gal who questions the seeming contradictions between my beliefs and actions. For instance, in theory I’d rather spend my money on things of lasting importance (supporting a child through Compassion International, for instance, or (more selfishly) supporting my writing habit) than on short-term pleasures. So…why do I spend money on a haircut when my husband can cut a reasonably straight line across the bottom of my hair for free? Why do I buy a cute shade of nail polish or lip gloss?

One simple answer is that it feels good to make myself look pretty. Okay. That makes sense, but why? I mean, the definition of “pretty” seems to change with the seasons. I stopped reading the makeup section of Real Simple magazine for a while, because I realized that upon reading an issue, I’d discover that I “needed” some new product or eye glitter. Geez, was I really that shallow? What’s the big deal with looking good?

A study in the December 2009 issue of Personal Relationships (yes, there is a scholarly journal devoted to personal relationships; who knew?) sheds some light on the issue of why people like to look attractive. In it, researchers from the University of Georgia and the University of Kansas report that “attractive people do tend to have more social relationships and therefore an increased sense of psychological well-being.”

But there’s a caveat: this is only true in urban areas. In rural communities, where people have fewer choices in their social relationships, physical appearance loses some importance.

In my ideal world, physical appearance wouldn’t play a role in how others judge me; but in the real world, it’s important to recognize that yes, appearance impacts how others view me. This study also reminds me to be careful as I look at others, though, because the societal norm is apparently to pick the pretty face when given a choice. I’d like to help change that.

:) Cheryl

Photo is the work of annie316 at Flickr Creative Commons



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